Roll with the flow.....

The economy is bad, people. I don't need to tell you that.

TV and newspapers are deluged with gloom and doom and quite frankly, I'm sick of it. I'm trying my very best not to participate in this so-called recession/depression business. I pumped plenty of money into the crumbled mess of a housing market back in December and along with that came the never-ending outflow of money for general "stuff" for the new house. I wrote a big check to the hard working laborers who installed the fence in my backyard and I feel it's my civic duty to fill my calendar with social outings just so I can support the local restaurants and wine bars. And there is my HUGE patriotic boost to the economy coming up on April 15th.

It is a time for conservation and for being creative to make use out of what you already have on hand. We just have to roll with the flow and ride it out until good times are on the horizon again....

And that's exactly what I did a couple of weekends ago when I invited my friend C. over for dinner. It had been my intention to prepare a nice hearty lasagna smothered with meat sauce that had simmered all afternoon on my stove. I envisioned a nice loaf of homemade yeast bread rising in the afternoon warmth on my counter, waiting to be baked off right before he arrived. A sinfully rich Italian dessert would cap off our evening meal before we parked ourselves on the couch for a Netflix movie.

What I wanted and what I managed to pull together at the last minute were too entirely different things since I wound up spending most of that morning and early afternoon at the emergency vet clinic for my sweet baby Jesse James who had not been feeling well. This totally unexpected boost to the economy recessed my wallet and depressed me tremendously but I had to keep rolling with the flow. I had to get something pulled together quickly.
I opted for spinach and ricotta lasagna rolls with a bechamel sauce topped with a semi-homemade marinara sauce. These rolls, like "regular" lasagna, could easily be adapted to include ground beef or any variety of veggies to keep it vegetarian and are quick and easy to assemble. I just went with what I had on hand. I've never been a fan of ricotta cheese - growing up, my mother always used cottage cheese in her lasagna and even now that's what I prefer - but I had ricotta on hand and so ricotta it was. A quick trip to the grocery produced a loaf of bread and a ripe cantaloupe that I cubed and drizzled with a red wine reduction sauce, and dinner and dessert were served up right on time!

Ya just gotta roll with it, baby!

{and on a side note: my punkin is very diligently following the doctor's orders of getting plenty of rest and is feeling much better these days!}

Spinach & Ricotta Lasagna Rolls
serves 4

for the bechamel sauce:

4 TBLS butter
4 TBLS flour
2 cups milk
dash nutmeg

for the lasagna rolls:

8 lasagna noodles, cooked per package directions
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
dash nutmeg
salt and pepper, to taste
your favorite marinara sauce
4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
2 oz. shredded Parmesan cheese

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for about 1 minute. Whisk in milk and nutmeg and gently heat through, just until sauce thickens. Do not boil. Ladle the sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.

Combine the ricotta, spinach, egg, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly over each cooked lasagna noodle. Roll noodles but don't press down on them or your filling will smoosh out. Place rolls on top of the bechamel without touching them together. Ladle marinara over the rolls and top with shredded cheeses.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Remove foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes or so until the cheese is lightly browned.


Anonymous said...

You have a real talent for writing as well as cooking. Reading this makes it easy to get into the pleasant emotional experience of savoring food, nourishing our body & soul at the same time.

Thanks for sharing it!


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